Imagining Jesus (from a safe distance)
Imaginative prayer was the focus for our evening worship this evening. We were invited to allow our imaginations to draw us into a Gospel scene and to ourselves to get caught up in the action.
The Gospel scene was from Luke Chapter Seven, verses two to ten:
A centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
A familiar story that allowed many possible roles. Being one of the crowd seemed an easy option, you could simply follow the action without having to think about how you would react confronted with a particular situation.
So I watched Jesus’ arrival and his conversation with the elders. Then there was an excited shuffle along the street as the crowd grew large in anticipation of something dramatic happening. There was the imminent prospect of seeing a miracle.
As we moved along the street, Jesus comes to a halt; met by men who are known as friends of the centurion. There are words exchanged, and pushing through the crowd to get closer it’s possible to hear the message the centurion has sent.
Then Jesus turns and praises the centurion’s faith and turns from the street that leads to the centurion’s house. Word quickly comes that the servant is well.
There is a sense of disappointment that I won’t be seeing a miracle today.
I wondered about that disappointment. Maybe it comes from too strong a desire for proof, from wanting God on my terms.Happy to move along with the crowd, I am then disappointed that I don’t see things first hand, but how would I if Jesus is always at a distance?
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